Connect your passion and your intellect with a degree in paralegal studies.
All of the paralegal studies programs are offered through our flexible distance education program, Woods Online. While the paralegal studies program originates in the distance offerings, we also require just a few hours on campus. This paralegal studies programs is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) and this approval process requires that ten (10) credit hours of legal specialty courses are taken in a traditional (face-to-face) format.
Paralegal Studies at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
- SMWC’s paralegal studies program has a job placement rate of over 90%.
- We offer a bachelor’s and associate’s degree for those students seeking a college degree, and a post-baccalaureate certificate program for students already holding a baccalaureate degree.
- TheBestSchools.org ranks SMWC second in the nation for best online paralegal associate’s degree programs.
- The SMWC paralegal studies program incorporates the Core Competencies identified by the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE), to which SMWC is an institutional member in good standing.
- Kathryn Myers, associate professor of paralegal studies and program coordinator, is a past president of the AAfPE and an expert in the field. She has published three textbooks about legal research, writing and analysis.
American Bar Association Approval
The approval of the American Bar Association is a designation that is recognized by members of the legal community as an indicator of quality and is respected by leaders in the field of paralegal education. The Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Paralegal program is the only ABA approved program in West Central Indiana/East Central Illinois and is only one of three ABA approved programs in the State of Indiana. ABA Approval requires that ten (10) credit hours of legal specialty courses be taken in traditional (face-to-face) format.
Please contact the program coordinator for detailed information.
You'll be in high demand!
The paralegal career continues to be one of the most prolific professions in today’s work force and through 2018. Paralegals work side by side with lawyers and other legal professionals. Working under the supervision of an attorney, paralegals draft documents and prepare them for filing, perform legal research, assist the attorney with trial preparation, and work with clients.
Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL)
Each state defines and regulates the practice of law within its jurisdiction, usually through state Supreme Court rules. In addition to the criminal sanctions for practicing law without a license, some states may make civil remedies available to a client who has been fraudulently represented by a person who is not a licensed attorney. Each state charges an ethics committee with implementing the practice rules and with the administration of professional discipline. Although the responsible agency may differ from state to state, there is uniformity among the states in providing some type of student practice rules, rules for professional responsibility and regulation of licensed attorneys, and for criminal sanctions for the unauthorized practice of law.
All states have general statutes which limit the practice of law to licensed attorneys. The way each state defines UPL, if it is defined at all, differs greatly. UPL laws are open to interpretation by the courts and each jurisdiction differs in its activities and interpretations. Generally, the practice of law has been recognized to include: (1) accepting cases from a client; (2) setting fees; (3) giving legal advice, thereby rendering independent legal judgment on behalf of a client; (4) preparing or signing legal documents; and (5) appearing in a representative capacity before a court or other adjudicatory body. You need to be familiar with the UPL rules and regulations for the state within which you are working.
- The Law Day program, hosted by SMWC for over 25 years, was named "Outstanding Law Day Program for 1998" by the American Bar Association. It remains the only college program to receive this award.
- Students obtain actual work experience with various entities when they participate in the mentor program and in the practicum. Paralegal internships are also available.
- Students are encouraged to enter state and national paralegal writing and research competitions (our students win, too!).
- All majors receive training in Westlaw; a computer assisted legal research system.
- The honor society, Lambda Epsilon Chi (LEX) has a chapter on campus.
- Seniors participate in a supervised practicum, which requires a minimum of 150 hours of work in a legal setting.
- Students compile a working portfolio to highlight their accomplishments and show the paralegal skills they've built while at The Woods.
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College’s paralegal studies program aims to set the standard of excellence in liberal arts-based, career-oriented education that is both academically and technologically progressive within a personal, supportive environment. To achieve its educational mission, the paralegal studies program provides for the study and exchange of ideas and for the acquisition of career skills so that students think and communicate with greater awareness of themselves and others, gain valuable tools for employment, and develop resources for future opportunities.
American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE)
The paralegal studies program incorporates the Core Competencies identified by the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE), to which SMWC is an Institutional member in good standing. Additionally, the coordinator of the paralegal program at The Woods is a past president of the AAfPE. Additionally, the Paralegal Coordinator has been the annual conference chairperson for over ten years, presents at annual and regional conferences and has been on the Board of Directors.